It's definitely more than 3.1 miles. It's more than muddy course. It's more than just exhaustion.
For some, it's a way of life.
Cross country isn't the most glamorous sport, running around a course.
There are no last-minute scores or vaunted drives down a field.
It's each runner testing the limits of their endurance and trying to better themselves each and every race.
Usually teams like Maplewood and McDonald are the first and foremost in the conversation in this area and rightfully so.
McDonald's boys have six state championships and seven runners-up, including Saturday's second-place finish at National Trail Raceway.
Maplewood's boys lay claim to five state championships and five runners-up. The Rockets were fourth at this year's state meet.
They are the gold standard when it comes to cross country, not only here in Trumbull County, but around the state as well.
Area teams have become better because of Maplewood and McDonald's success.
Take Lakeview. The Bulldogs' boys team were three points short of sending its team to state. Senior Eric Harris finished 28th on Saturday. If Lakeview would've advanced, the Bulldogs would've made it to state for the first time since the mid-1990s.
On the girls' side, McDonald and Maplewood have been up there as well. Maplewood finished in the top four in 2009 and 2010. McDonald just broke into the top 10 this year - finishing ninth.
Now the Girard girls, which have steadily improved all year, made it to regionals and sent freshman Domenique Hall to state.
There's also the Badger girls, which won this year's Northeastern Athletic Conference title.
And, there's the team that made the most impact this year, Howland.
Both the boys and girls team excelled in the regular season and have the last two Trumbull County individual girls champions in Taylor Craigo and Morgan Buckley.
Tigers' junior Ryan Sullivan finished 40th in the Division I race, quite an impact for the first-time state qualifier.
But the biggest thing he had going for him was his fan base. There were a throng of Howland supporters there for Sullivan following his 3.1-mile run. It shows the importance cross country is in the Tigers' community.
At this year's state meet, there were more than a host of runners performing well.
This year's Division III state champion, Versailles' Samuel Prakel, beat out St. Thomas Aquinas' Cory Glines for the title, 15:16.62 to 15:20.66.
That wasn't too far off the Division I finish, which is normally the fastest of the three divisions.
Tippecanoe's Sam Wharton won in a time of 15:09.95, beating out Westerville North's Jacob Dumford (15:17.61).
Boardman's Mark Hadley took sixth in the Division I race (15:29.74).
McDonald's Bobby Johnson was fifth in Division III (15:39.45), while teammate Patrick Kunkel was sixth (15:45.31).
In Division II, St. Vincent-St. Mary's Mick Iacofano won (15:32.98), while Defiance's Abel Flores was second (15:46.48).
"The last two years have been the toughest as far as the quality of Division III runners," McDonald coach Chris Rupe said. "There's a lot of times Bobby and Pat could've won state with the times they got. This year they're fifth and sixth. There's some amazing programs in Division III. That's a great thing.
"I like to see the sport doing well. I like for us to do well, but I like when other people do well too."
And, this sport is spreading around Trumbull County.
PARKING WARS: Kudos to the Ohio High School Athletic Association for making the adjustment they made to this year's state meet.
The OHSAA sent people coming from the east and the west into National Trail Raceway into different exits off I-70. It alleviated much of the traffic coming into the meet, avoiding many of the delays.
The OHSAA is contracted with National Trail Raceway on a year-by-year basis.